And he’s out. Raymond Moore resigned as CEO and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday, March 21, following sexist comments that he made over the weekend.
Moore’s decision was announced by BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison. “Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision,” Ellison said in a statement, via the tournament’s page.
“I would like to personally thank all the great women athletes who fought so hard for so many years in the pursuit of equal prize money in professional tennis,” Ellison continued. “And I’d like to congratulate them on their success. All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody.”
Moore, 69, received backlash for telling female tennis players that they should be grateful for their male counterparts. “If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport,” he said on Sunday.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams was quick to respond to the controversial remarks. “Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point,” the six-time Wimbledon champion, 34, said during a press conference. “Last year the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”
She added: “I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women’s players but women athletes in general.”
Ellison agreed. On Monday, he referred to 39-time Grand Slam winner King, 73, and the “historic campaign” she began in the 1950s for the “equal treatment of women in tennis.”
“Thanks to the leadership of Billie Jean, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes, an important measure of success has already been achieved,” Ellison continued in his statement. “I’m proud to say that it is now a decade-long tradition at our tournament at Indian Wells, and all the major tennis tournaments, to pay equal prize money to both the women and the men.”
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